After Years of Overseeing Lottery Payments West Virginia’s Commissioner Retires

Cash in structured settlement payments

About half (48%) of all lotto winners work after they win. Unfortunately for the last 19 years John Musgrave wasn’t able to participate in such activity, but that didn’t stop him from feeling like he won the lottery every day. Musgrave was a a Sunday school teacher and on the board of directors at his church before he became Lottery Commissioner in West Virginia. While he had worked for years in different administrative positions at the state and federal level, it certainly made for an unexpected appointment by then-Governor Cecil Underwood in 1997.

“I said, ‘The Lottery?’ Musgrave said. “The last thing I?d want to be associated with would be gambling.”

After almost 19 years of overseeing lottery payments and watching people decide between lump sum versus annuity payouts, Musgrave retired on Tuesday (10/27), according to the Charleston-area news site Throughout his tenure as Lottery Commissioner he saw the state sanctioned gambling enterprise turn into a $1 billion-a-year enterprise.

When he took over the job in 1997 the situation was far from a cushy top-level office. The Lottery was grossing less than $250 million a year, video lottery at the state’s four racetracks were surviving at best, and it was only a few years earlier that Butch Byran, the former director, was convicted in federal court on public corruption charges.

A lottery annuity is paid out over the course of a set time, usually 30 years as is the case with the Mega Millions jackpot. The government still withholds about 25% of it, but it helps protect people from blowing it all in the first couple years.

Musgrave was able to turn around the department in charge of lottery payments by turning the racetracks into full-fledged casinos, open an entirely new one at The Greenbrier resort, and cleaned up illegal gambling operations that had permeated into local bars and nightclubs. While it’s unclear what the biggest lump sum lottery payout he ever oversaw was, he did see 13 consecutive years of over $1 billion in gross revenues. The highest year came in 2006-07 when the lottery made $1.56 billion for the state.

Commissioner Michael Adams lauded Musgrave for his integrity and ability to put political affiliations aside when doing business.

“John has always come down on the side of advancing and protecting the integrity of the Lottery,” Adams said.

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